What was your inspiration for Warbreaker?
Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)
I kid you not, I was talking to my US editor. I'd just finished Elantris and Mistborn, and he said "Your next book needs to have more color in it."
What was your inspiration for Warbreaker?
I kid you not, I was talking to my US editor. I'd just finished Elantris and Mistborn, and he said "Your next book needs to have more color in it."
[how he came up with the magic system of the Rithmatist--started with drawing] I'm really looking forward to it.
It's coming. I'm going to write it after I finish Stormlight 3.
You're doing a leatherbound edition of Elantris. Are there any plans for Warbreaker?
If the leatherbound Elantris does very well, we'd go through the books. So we'd probably do Mistborn next, and then we would get to Warbreaker.
What is the worst writing advice you've ever gotten?
...The thing about writing advice is, most people are giving writing advice that works for them which means it's actually good advice to try out. The only really bad advice is, "This is the way it must be done." Because different writers have very different approaches. Can you imagine Stephen King. Stephen King can't write with an outline. So he says "Don't outline." Orson Scott Card says, "I've gotta have an outline or my book stinks." Both of those can't be right. But one of them might be right for you. The truth is, most writers I know don't outline some things, do outline other things, and come up with this, like, Frankenstein of different pieces of advice that work for them.
The absolute worst thing I that ever heard, and I'm not gonna say who said this, was they were telling my students, while I was teaching them, my students came in and said "What do you think of this," to include a glossy headshot with every submission. To get the attention of editors. And not include a SASE, a self addressed stamped envelope (back in the days, you know, where we did this all in print). If they liked it enough, they'd track you down.
[Something about Legion]
I will eventually. I've got an idea for a third one. But I'm not sure when I'll write it. I've got something else I'm working on.
*inaudible* [Presumably about the interval between Stormlight 5 and 6]
I can't tell you too much without giving you spoilers. It's not a jump like Mistborn. It's more like ten or fifteen years. It will be the same characters, but some of the main characters will fade to be more minor characters, and some of the minor characters will fade to be more major characters. For example, Lift is one of the main characters for the second part, and Jasnah, and Renarin, and such.
I can't answer that yet, because I'm going to be talking a lot about how the worlds blend in later books, so I don't want to talk too much about how the magics blend now.
Is that something we'll be seeing in Stormlight?
In Hoid's trilogy?
Yep. Post-Stormlight. That's part of why I need to RAFO those questions, because they're so far off right now.
In Elantris, the AonDor comes in the form of the lands, so if an Elantrian wanted to use it on a different Shardworld, like Roshar, would the symbols change?
That's an excellent question! And I'm going to RAFO it.
How did it feel writing Syl as a character, transitioning *inaudible*?
It took a long time to figure out how I wanted to do her. It took a lot of practice scenes and such. It was very fun when I finally got to do it, because I'd been planning it for so long. It was really just a matter of trying to get inside the head of this creature who is slowly becoming more and more aware of herself. Having children helps, certainly.
In Way of Kings, Shallan is being chased by Cryptics. She begins to summon her Shardblade, stops and then Soulcasts for the first time. We know from Words of Radiance that it's her bond to Pattern, her Shardblade that allows her to Soulcast. So my question is, if Shallan had not begun to summon her Blade, would she have been able to Soulcast?
She would not have been able to. Good question! Wow. No one has ever asked me that before.
What color is Aimian blood?
Good question! The question is, which type of Aimian? That would be my first response. The two different varieties have two different colors of blood.
I know that Perfect State is not part of the Cosmere, but if the Wode were to construct a 'Perfect State' for someone like Hoid, would that look like the cosmere?
So a universe with him as the most important character... yes.
It's National Novel Writing Month. Do you have any advice for amateur writers jumping into this endeavor?
Yeah, NaNoWriMo. I did this for many years before I got published. I was already writing, my friends were all doing it, so I'm like, "Yeah, I'll keep going and, then I won't tell you guys my word count because then you'll feel bad." *laughter* We always had, like, a race board posted on a website, that just posted what the daily count was supposed to be. I often doubled it. So, I was like this even back then. I would say, for you, to-- Number one, don't let the word count goal intimidate you. If you don't get 50,000-- the whole goal is just to get you out of your writing comfort zone. So, for you, 25,000 is where you're going, and you actually still do that, that's fine. 50,000 isn't a novel anyway, they just say it is. I mean it is technically a novel, but I mean, how many novels are 50,000 words? There's not very many. A lot of middle grade is around 50,000 words. I would just go for it. The other thing is, have a daily habit of when you're going to write, and try to make that sacrosanct and get into this habit of, I'm writing for these two hours. And kind of unplug during those two hours and write during those two hours. Worry less about what your word count is you're hitting. Do try to not self-edit. That's the biggest thing that's gonna to help you. If you're not going back and revising and revising and revising, and you're pushing forward-- the goal is to teach yourself to finish something and to push forward and turn off your internal editor.
So like as far as distance traveled in Shadesmar. So when Kelsier is in Shadesmar, he meets the Ire, who are presumably Elantrians. How far did he travel? Is that still within Scadrial's realm of the Cognitive Realm?
Yeah, that's within-- By the time he meets them he has slipped right to the edge of the Cognitive Realm on Scadrial and into, kind of, the darkness between planets.
He's close enough that he can get there. But he's kind of suffused with Scadrian Investiture then, to a point that it would be harder--you saw in there--for him to get further. I would say that he's like... He has entered space between planets, but he's not out of the solar system.
Okay, so he's still in the Scadrian system, just not--just edging a bit there.
Yeah, yep. That's what I'd say if I had to actually point him in that <a map>. It gets really fuzzy though, because it wouldn't be too much longer before he enters another solar system. Like, he would pass lightyears in steps as he starts getting further, if that makes any sense.
That makes sense, because, I mean, with worldhopping in general it's like... You can only... I mean it's... I don't know how the time dilation works per se, but...
It's not-- there's not much time dilation. What you've got going on is... Things that people aren't around to think about, things without minds or any sort of life, don't manifest on Shadesmar very much at all. And so the space between planets gets really small, unless there's another planet out there with thinking beings or at least some sort of life on it. Like even lower lifeforms, you'll get something manifesting on Shadesmar. But yeah
Okay. So the Cognitive Realm, in Shadesmar... It's kind of the... Any kind of sentient or cognitive life-- that's what is building Shadesmar? So like anything where there's blackness... is like... condensed or--
Yes, yes. Particularly if no one's thinking about it. If people are thinking about it - like, for instance, an island in the ocean that was scoured of all life and even bacteria would still manifest in Shadesmar on that planet because people are aware of it and things like this. But one on the other side of the planet, that no one ever knew about it, probably wouldn't.
So that same island, if people just stopped thinking about it or like stopped being aware of its presence, would it...
It could slowly vanish, yes. And so-- But that's more of a thought experiment. You're never gonna have a planet that that happens to, you know cause-- but thought experiment wise, yes, that would eventually kind of get consumed by Shadesmar and vanish. The same thing would happen to a planet that you strip the atmosphere from--all the bacteria and life dies on it--you know, slowly going to vanish. But a moon will still manifest because people are thinking about it. It'll just not-- it won't-- it'll be hokey, it'll be weird--the moon will be. Like you might find a little patch that represents the moon. Something like that.
You're not gonna find the full landscape of the moon until people start visiting it. And it's gonna grow on Shadesmar.
I also have problems with an English major with creative writing and fantasy. I'm just wondering, how do you get past that? Because I'm also trying to go into teaching, and it's the same with research.
...The first thing you should do as a writer, is you should listen to what those people are saying and teaching and try to learn from them. I think the strength of fantasy and science fiction as genres is that people think the wrong things about our genre. You can find literary writers in science fiction and fantasy. N.K. Jemisin is doing amazing things with literary fantasy right now. You should be reading her books, they're fantastic. Gene Wolf, Ursula Le Guin; they imagine that fantasy is way more strict than it is. So, if you take a class with someone, see what you can learn from them, that's the first thing. The second thing is, don't back down. Write what you want to write, and don't let them talk you out of loving what you love. Go ahead and try new things but apply it to what you think is going to help you, and if you're willing to take the grade hit for it.
If you made a sword-shaped nicrosil metalmind, and dumped a lot of unkeyed Investiture into it, could you make a Nightblood-esque Shardblade? And if you actually didn't go to the trouble and just dumped a lot of keyed Investiture into it, would that change the outcome?
You're getting close to how this type of thing works but you're missing a few things. Keep working on it.
What was Zane's hemalurgical power? (Or was he just spiked for control?)
Extra power with Pushing on metals. It lent him extremely great precision.
I was happy when Elend finally burned duralumin with atium. I was holding my breath hoping that someone would eventually do it. However we didn't really get any info as to what Elend experienced. Does a duralumin-enhanced atium burn allow a person to see significantly farther into the future? If so, being that Elend's army was dying all around him did he get to see into the afterlife? Also if you could tell us what he saw that would be awesome. Did something he saw make him not want to avoid Marshes strike?
On a similar note if someone burned electrum with duralumin would they get to see significantly into their own future?
There is much here that I can't say, but I'll give as much as I can. Elend saw Preservation's ultimate plan, and Elend's own part in it. What he saw made him realize he didn't want to kill Marsh, and that his own death would actually help save the world. Like a master chess player, he suddenly saw and understand every possible move his enemy could make. He saw that Ruin was check-mated, because there was one thing that Ruin was not willing to do. Something that both Elend and Vin could do, if needed. And it's what they did.
So, in answer to your question, Elend stayed his hand. This is one of the reasons why I changed my mind and decided that Marsh had to live through the end of the book. Elend spared him; I needed to too.
Does Harmony have Straff Venture's hidden atium?
Harmony has everything he needs, but that doesn't answer your question. No, Harmony does not have Straff's atium.
So at the end of Calamity...
You did sort of leave me hanging in the dark on a few <favors>. And you said that when you finish a book you sort of go on a little bit.
Okay, so, what do you want to know?
What happened to Jonathan Phaedrus. I've got three theories.
So, okay, tell me your theories. *brief interruption*
My theory is... One, he could self destruct. Two, he could become a dark hero. Three, Megan could develop her talents enough and bring Tia back from the *inaudible* she was in. Or some combination of the other three.
Prof is not heading toward evil.
His trajectory is turned away from that. He is very seriously disturbed by what happens. And in the next book...
Oh, there is another book?
If I write another book it will be about Mizzy. Her viewpoint. I haven't promised I will, but-- I mean, in the next book-- I have an outline for the next book, and in that Prof has kind of become a recluse, and things like this. It would be possible to find a Tia from another dimension and bring her through. Prof won't accept that as Tia.
See that's what I was thinking.
That's the problem.
But I can see him becoming sort of a dark <brooding> hero type...
Yeah, so, we'll see. I may not keep to these things when I actually write the book. Right now I have him retiring to-- not retiring, just kind of going off for a while, if that makes sense?
Maybe he'll go back to teaching science.
And not accepting the Tia from the Firefight dimension as actually Tia.
Can you tell us why he's called "Death"?
Because he is seen usually in creepy situations, and looks creepy, and mythology has grown up. Though that one's also a RAFO for the Secret Histories-- that's a real RAFO for the Secret Histories. I might get into that. But you can assume that the allure of... I mean, there's a little more to it. But I mean, let's say you saw him...
*laughs* That would be... *inaudible*
You'd be like, "Ahhhh!" So... But no, I do intend-- there are little things like that, that if I write Secret History 2 I can get into where some of these legends started. So you'll be able to see some of the starts of those and things like that.
Iirc he wrote all the Szeth and Dalinar flashbacks to see which set would fit better in Oathbringer, then settled on Dalinar
This didn't actually happen. He was planning to do that, but the Dalinar chapters were just too good, and while he wrote them the way the book fit together became organized in his mind.
In your opinion, who would win a fight between a Fullborn (with compounding knowledge of the sixteen base metals) and Nicol Bolas?
I think Bolas is more powerful in his realm and continuity than your average fullborn is--but that said, we haven't seen any with real mastery of all the metals. But I'd say if you take the lore of the two universes into account, Bolas wins.
How do you decide where/what to cut in a project of this size? When you say it reads better, are you constantly reading the whole thing and re-reading?
That's exactly how I revise--I re-read the book, making notes about what is working and what isn't, then plan strategies for fixing it. I incorporate beta reader feedback into this. When a section I felt was explosive and interesting gets "meh" responses from the majority of readers, I have to ask myself why, look at the sections again and decide--is this the sort of section I leave as is or change? In some cases, you leave it, as while it might be only okay to some readers, it includes scenes that some others will absolutely love. In other cases, I've miss-evaluated somehow, and need to attack it again.
This is all done as I re-read the book again, using my notes as a guide on what to fix.
...has a <nail> in his eye. Which eye is *inaudible*
I am going to RAFO that one. Just in case.
Has Bloody Tan seen the Sovereign?
*laughs* So... here's the thing-- and this is why I'm RAFO-ing these, it's not because of what you think. I'm RAFO-ing these because these the nature of the Sovereign, and who they call the Sovereign, and these sorts of things is stuff that I want to potentially leave for Secret History 2-- or for [Secret History] 3, if I write more Secret Histories. So the answers are probably simple, right? And they're not ones that are gonna be mind blowing. But I don't want to lock myself down until I've written those, which is why I'm RAFO-ing most of the questions dealing with this, okay?
*a moment later Brandon overhears continued conversation about Secret History*
So, oh, you were asking it that specific way to not give spoilers to someone here? Yeah, I see what you're doing. I see-- I thought you were trying to wiggle out of me something that you weren't trying to wiggle out of me.
Not everyone here has read...
I get it, I get it. I see what's going on.
We're not trying to be that *inaudible*
Okay, okay. I was misinterpreting the intent of those questions a little bit. Yes, being very tricky. Okay.
*pauses to sign a book*
So the answer of which spike is it? I can answer that one? *interruption* Or really I can tell you--it's in my notes, and I don't have them, but it's not particularly relevant--it's the opposite side of the one where Death's skull was crushed.
Oh, yes. Yes.
They would look like mirror images if you saw them.
Zahel calls Renarin--he says to Renarin-- I'm sorry, about Renarin... *brief interruption*
So, keep going.
He calls him "the son of the most powerful human on this..." And I was wondering, the word "human", is that referring to Dalinar or is it referring to maybe Dalinar *inaudible/interrupted*
Good question! It is referring to Dalinar.
It is!? So how would you finish that sentence? "The most powerful human on this..."
When Hoid *inaudible* Shallan in...
In Jah Keved, when she's back in the flashback?
In the flashback.
In the flashback, yep.
In--yes--during that experience...
And at the end of the book, Dalinar has that vision that didn't come from the Stormfather. I was wondering if those are related?
Those are not related. Good question.
Timeline-wise will Warbreaker 2 come before Stormlight Archive or is it after?
Before the end of the Stormlight?
So Warbreaker 2 would it take place before the start of...
Oh, before. Yeah, Warbreaker 2 chronologically is pre-Stormlight. Before Stormlight 1, yeah.
I'm excited for that.
In fact, chronologically I think it's the exact book before Stormlight 1. I don't think there's anything in between there.
Will the book say why Nightblood's on [Roshar]...
It will at least hint at it. I mean the book is called Nightblood. If it doesn't I'll write a bridge novella to kind of do that.
Bridge the gap?
Bridge the gap. Because the story-- I'm not sure if I can work in everything. Because the story isn't about Nightblood leaving. It's about-- yeah.
Yeah, it's not about that. It's just kind of like a... how did that transition happen.
I mean, yeah. Vasher's cosmere-aware, and so the more you talk to him the more some of this stuff will come out.
So one of the things people have been asking about a lot the nature of Identity and its uses for accessing other people's metalminds, and things like this right. And I hedged a little bit when somebody asked me... *inaudible*...send people into spirals of confusion, so I'm gonna clarify it for now. So, someone comes in and says, we need a blank metalmind, anybody can use that. I'm like, yes but, the reason that it's a hedge is that you need to actually be a feruchemist to access it, right, you can't just hold the blank metalmind not being a feruchemist, even though it's somebody else's investiture that's been blanked, right. So people keep kind of missing this thing. I'm hedging in the sort of, you don't quite have it, I've kind of dodged it, but I worry that it's just going to be confusing.
So the issue is, you need two things from one of these. You need something that makes you a feruchemist, and then you need a metalmind that somebody else has filled with blank investiture, ok. Now if you can get pure investiture, that can be used by anybody, regardless, ok, you need it in pure form though. But, so there are some other tricks with this as well that don't make it...so anyway, you've got a couple of things that can go on. So you've got a blank metalmind, right, with nothing. You need either investiture, to be able...like you need to be the right type. There are ways to access that if you are completely blank also, if you were a blank slate, but that is still...kind of hard. It's even harder if you are blank, and the metalmind is not blank, but that's not what they're doing in Mistborn right now. You are tapping investiture, gaining the ability of feruchemy and then you are drawing out a blank metalmind, ok. That's the one you need to be...and everything else I'm hedging on intentionally, and I'm worried I hedged in a way that made it sound confusing, ok. So you know now what they're doing. You know that there are other things possible. But I don't want you to think that you have the explanations for how all those things happen, ok.
Could a bloodmaker heal a Shardblade wound?
Could a...whatmaker? Oh, could a bloodmaker heal a Shardblade wound? Um, yes, yes they could. So, what...so, yes, this is possible. (Long pause) Is it possible? I haven't actually thought about it. I have to work through the mechanics of the magics. Jury's out. Jury's out. I've gotta go and look at the actual mechanics, so I'm gonna "jury's out" on that one. That's a read and find out as, you would think I'd figured that one out, because I'm planning for the conflicts but I haven't, like... So what's happening with the healing on Roshar is that they are using Stormlight to bridge the severed soul and glue it back together, right. So, the magic of bloodmaking is different to an extent, in that it is prompting healing directly from the body, right... I'm gonna go with yes, until I look at it but, jury's out.
So, I'll RAFO that but it's more of a RAFO in the sort of, uh I think you can theorize on this and come up with a ...
What would happen if a Parshendi were to attract a spren and bring it into the Highstorm? Like, an Honorspren of some sort?
Sapient spren have a choice of whether they get bonded or not, unless you entrap them some way. But simply attracting them...simply going into the Highstorm with one wouldn't work, what you said is 'attracted a spren', so, to answer that actually... The thing is, honorspren, all the spren of Honor and Cultivation, not honorspren capital, Honorspren or whatever... The spren that create the orders of the Knights Radiant have not, in the past, been attracted to Parshendi because of certain events in the past.
You'll have to Read and Find Out.
On Roshar, do the humans predate the two Shards coming there, or did they come with the Shards?
The humans were...not created by Honor, Cultivation or Odium.
Are all the red-eyed characters influenced by the same Shard?
No. Good question! I was waiting for someone to ask that. You will come to learn what red means in the Cosmere. There is a meaning for red in the Cosmere.
*inaudible* changing suits, or is the suit changing *inaudible*
(Brandon chuckling) Unfortunately he just changes suits.
Yeah, that's one of those things where now when I look at it I'm like, oh that totally looks like I was doing something...no.
Szeth-son-son-Vallano, is that name common, in Shin, or is that something that...
Usually it's, if you only have one son, usually it's... Yeah, the son-son was because he was not considered worthy enough to be worthy of his father.
So is he related to Vallano?
Yeah, it's the grandson.
If it's possible for a Shard that's been shattered to be recombined, has it happened yet?
You have seen things be added back together. I'm not going to say whether you've seen a splintered shard fully be recombined, alright. Ah, you haven't seen it happen, I'm not going to say whether it's happened in the Cosmere or not.
Are there any other spren from Odium aside from voidspren?
Voidspren is a name for spren from Odium, it covers entire categories of spren.
So they're all just generically voidspren?
Voidspren is a name for them, yes, but there are sub-divisions of things like this.
Can you break that down more?
You will get that broken down in future books as it becomes more obvious what does what, coz they have their own thing that, I'm just going to stop. That's a RAFO.
Her name, Lift, is it literally like 'lift', the sound, or is it translated from Rosharan, like the word lift?
It is translated from Rosharan.
Is it a nickname?
So, I'll RAFO that. But that is actually, it's whatever in Rosharan...not in Rosh...in Reshi, whatever in Reshi...and Reshi is the Iriali language family, so...
Did Szeth require training in the lashes that were granted by his Honorblade?
In Stormlight, so many of the names of things are pairs of words, like the glyphpairs or something...
Yeah it's the glyphpairs, those are very big parts. You'll find it common throughout my writing though because, in my studies of languages, I found that most languages that's very common, that's where things come from. English doesn't do it as much, or at least it's not as obvious because we don't have many weird words for things but it's super common throughout linguistics. For Alethi, with the glyphpairs and stuff, it's the way they do things. It's like German, they make a new word by taking two words and smashing them together
At the very end of A Memory of Light, when a certain character walks off with his pipe, how does he manage to light it?
I don't know as Robert Jordan never told us, but what I think is that it was because he touched the Pattern.
Why didn't Dalinar get Surgebinding from bonding Taln's Honorblade?
You assume Dalinar held Taln's Blade.
Is Odium influencing Kaladin in a similar way as Ruin was influencing Vin?
Is Cultivation's Shardpool on the Horneater Peaks? Is Honor's Shardpool the Origin?
I don't want to say where the Shardpools [Perpendicularities] are yet, good guesses. RAFO.
Why did Kaladin's forehead scars never heal?
Stormlight healing has a lot to do with how one sees oneself.
How about the other way around? Can a Parshendi bond a Knights Radiant spren?
Historically, the Parshendi were not made Knights Radiant, or the parshmen weren't.
Can they become squires maybe?
Historically they did not, but it's not impossible.
Can anyone other than a Parshendi bond a Voidspren? Like, can a human bond a Voidspren?
That is theoretically possible but humans are not good at bonding spren in the same way.
Are the Parshendi of Honor?
He RAFO'd any questions about where the Shardpools [Perpendicularities] are.